Akron (5-6) at Kent State (1-9) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Dix Stadium (25,319) — Kent, Ohio. Television:
ESPN3.com. Home Record: Akron 4-2, Kent State 1-4. Away Record: Akron 1-4,
Kent State 0-5. Neutral Record: Akron 0-0, Kent State 0-0. Conference Record:
Akron 3-4, Kent State 0-6. Series Record: Akron leads, 31-23-2.

GAME NOTES: Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the Akron Zips
and Kent State Golden Flashes will clash head to head in a Mid-American
Conference battle at Dix Stadium on Friday.

Akron finally snapped a four-game losing skid with a victory last Tuesday
against Massachusetts, 30-6. The Zips currently sit at 5-6 on the season, and
could use a win this weekend to help their bowl eligibility stock.

This contest for Kent State is the second in as many weeks that was
rescheduled. The Golden Flashes had a contest against Buffalo canceled due to
inclement weather, and then this game against Akron was pushed back from
Tuesday to Friday for the same reason. Kent State has dropped three
consecutive games.

The all-time series between these two in-state rivals favors Akron, as the
Zips hold a 31-23-2 series advantage. They met last season, with Akron coming
away with the 16-7 victory.

Akron’s offense has been a bit of an enigma this year. The Zips are led by
quarterback Kyle Pohl, who missed time earlier in the season due to injury.
But he’s back now, and has thrown for just shy of 2,000 yards (1,998) with
nine touchdowns and six interception. His completion percentage is exactly 56
percent for Akron.

Pohl hasn’t received much help from the team’s run game this year, which
averages 117.9 rushing ypg. Conor Hundley has shown some signs of brilliance,
having rushed for 531 yards and four touchdowns. Jawon Chisholm has gotten
just about as much work as Hundley on the ground, and has scored one more
touchdown than his fellow backfield mate. They’ve helped the team score 22.5
ppg this season.

The team’s receivers can be reliable at times, but haven’t produced eye-
popping numbers thus far. Zach D’Orazio leads the Zips with 57 receptions and
617 yards, but has added a single touchdown to his resume. L.T. Smith has
three receiving scores, and Mykel Traylor-Bennett owns a team-high four
touchdown catches.

Defensively, Akron is allowing opponents to gain 367.5 ypg and score 22.7 ppg
– both respectable numbers. But in the team’s four-game losing streak that
brought the Zips to a sub-.500 record, the team surrendered 35 points to Ball
State, 27 to Bowling Green and a whopping 55 to Buffalo. But Akron won’t be in
danger of doing that against Kent State, which hasn’t scored more than 20 in a
week since a mid-October win at Army.

Linebackers Jatavis Brown and Justin March are at the top of Akron’s tackle
leaderboard, with 89 and 64 stops, respectively. Brown has done it all this
season, registering 11.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and three fumble
recoveries. He and Nordly Capi (10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks) will be
getting after Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon.

Kent State’s offense is dismal, ranking near the bottom of the FBS in scoring
offense (15.3 ppg) and total offense (306.0 ypg). That offense is headed by
Reardon under center, who has thrown for 2,168 yards and 12 touchdowns against
15 interceptions. The Golden Flashes have been turnover machines through 10
games played this season.

The lack of a real rushing threat doesn’t help Kent State out at all.
Averaging 78.8 ypg, the team doesn’t generate much to take focus away from the
passing game. Nick Holley leads Kent State with 421 yards on 111 carries this
season, while Reardon’s two rushing scores are a team high.

Tight end Casey Pierce has been a lone bright spot for the Golden Flashes this
season, hauling in 54 receptions for 560 yards and five touchdowns, averaging
56 ypg catching the ball. Chris Humphrey has caught four touchdowns in nine
games played for Kent State.

It’s not enough that the offense has been lacking, but the team’s defense
hasn’t exactly been superb this season either. The Golden Flashes are
surrendering 29.5 ppg to opponents, and allowing them to rack up 435.4
offensive ypg in 10 contests. The team has also only gained 15 turnovers,
which is as many interceptions as Reardon has thrown.

Nate Holley has recorded 127 tackles to lead the team on the season, and has
registered four tackles for loss with two forced fumbles. Jordan Italiano is
second on the squad with 92 tackles, and Nate Terhune has recorded a team-best
3.5 sacks for a squad that has only managed seven tackles quarterback sacks
this season.

Akron knows it has to win this to be bowl eligible, but that’s not the reason
why the Zips should win. The Zips should win because Kent State has seriously
underperformed on both sides of the ball, and won’t be able to keep up with a
healthy Pohl and his Akron offense.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Akron 28, Kent State 13